Figuring out how to live with tinnitus is often how you manage it. To help tune it out you leave the television on. You avoid going dancing because the loud music at the bar makes your tinnitus worse for days after. You check in with experts constantly to try new treatments and new strategies. Eventually, your tinnitus simply becomes something you fold into your everyday way of life.
Tinnitus doesn’t have a cure so you feel helpless. But that could be changing. New research published in PLOS Biology indicates that an effective and permanent cure for tinnitus could be on the horizon.
Tinnitus normally manifests as a buzzing or ringing in the ear (though, tinnitus might be experienced as other noises as well) that don’t have an objective cause. A condition that impacts over 50 million people in the United States alone, tinnitus is incredibly common.
And it’s not a cause itself but an indication of some other problem. Put simply, something causes tinnitus – tinnitus symptoms are the outcome of some root concern. One of the reasons why a “cure” for tinnitus is elusive is that these root causes can be challenging to narrow down. There are numerous possible causes for tinnitus symptoms.
It is true, the majority of people connect tinnitus to hearing loss of some type, but even that relationship is unclear. There’s a relationship, certainly, but not all people who suffer from tinnitus also have loss of hearing (and vice versa).
Inflammation: a New Culprit
The new study published in PLOS Biology outlined a study performed by Dr. Shaowen Bao, an associate professor of physiology at the Arizona College of Medicine in Tuscon. Dr. Bao did experiments on mice who had tinnitus induced by noise-induced hearing loss. And what she and her team found out indicates a new tinnitus culprit: inflammation.
Inflammation was seen around the brain areas used for hearing when scans were performed on these mice. These tests reveal that noise-induced hearing loss is causing some unidentified injury because inflammation is the body’s reaction to damage.
But a new form of treatment is also made possible by these discoveries. Because handling inflammation is something we know how to do (in general). The tinnitus symptoms disappear when the mice were treated for inflammation. Or at the very least there were no longer observable symptoms of tinnitus.
So is There a Pill For Tinnitus?
One day there will most likely be a pill for tinnitus. Imagine that–rather than counting on these various coping mechanisms, you can just pop a pill in the morning and keep your tinnitus at bay.
That’s definitely the objective, but there are numerous big hurdles in the way:
- Not everybody’s tinnitus will be caused the same way; it’s really difficult to know (for now) whether all or even most tinnitus is related to inflammation of some type.
- All new approaches need to be proven safe; these inflammation blocking medications may have unsafe side effects that still need to be identified.
- These experiments were performed first on mice. This approach isn’t approved yet for humans and it might be a while before that happens.
So it could be a long way off before we get a pill to treat tinnitus. But it isn’t impossible. If you have tinnitus now, that means a substantial increase in hope. And, clearly, this approach in dealing with tinnitus is not the only one presently being studied. Every new finding, every new bit of knowledge, brings that cure for tinnitus just a little bit closer.
Ca Anything be Done Now?
If you have a prolonged ringing or buzzing in your ears today, the promise of a far off pill could give you hope – but not necessarily relief. Modern treatments may not “cure” your tinnitus but they do give real results.
Some strategies include noise-cancellation devices or cognitive therapies designed to help you dismiss the sounds linked to your tinnitus. A cure could be a number of years off, but that doesn’t mean you have to cope with tinnitus on your own or unaided. Discovering a therapy that works can help you spend more time doing what you love, and less time thinking about that buzzing or ringing in your ears. Contact us for a consultation now.